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Long-stalled downtown courthouse plan gets green light

The General Services Administration is moving ahead with plans to build a long-stalled federal courthouse in downtown Los Angeles, even though the project has drawn scrutiny from congressional Republicans eager to reduce the federal budget deficit.

But the agency believes it has the money to move ahead the project without going back to Congress. The roughly $400-million project at 1st Street and Broadway would replace the Depression-era federal courthouse on Spring Street.

GSA Administrator Martha Johnson alerted members of Congress in a letter Thursday that the agency “intends to award a contract" for construction of a new courthouse “to address the court’s urgent housing and security needs in Los Angeles … with the funds previously appropriated to the project."

"The project will take advantage of favorable market conditions, recognize substantial savings for taxpayers, create jobs and deliver a state-of-the-art courthouse that will make Californians proud," a GSA spokesman added.

Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Los Angeles), among a group of California lawmakers who have fought efforts to stop the project, said that she was “thrilled to learn that we could finally see construction start this year."

“This project will give an immediate, major boost to Los Angeles’ economy, and we expect the courthouse to create thousands of new jobs in the construction industry and related businesses," she said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) called the new courthouse “long-overdue and much-needed.’’ The GSA administrator said the agency is considering options for the existing federal courthouse at 312 N. Spring St.


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--Rich Simon in Washington

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